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England 1660
 King Charles II and his court returned to England from exile in France and attempted to adapt
services of theatre to his needs.
 He authorized 2 dramatists, Thomas Killegrew and Sir William D’Avenant, to form 2 acting
 Their audiences were courtiers and their servants as well as the middle class.
Theatre Royal – remodeled now
Theatre Royal, Drury
 This created a unique theatrical form: “Restoration Comedy”
 Focused on adventures of “people of quality” and reflected their
manners, humor and interests.
 Verbal Wit was essential and was used to satirize this class and its
 Often sexually explicit.
 Contained up-to-the-minute topical writing
 Women were cast in female roles.
 Nell Gwynn – considered first professional actress
 She was also the mistress of King Charles II.
 Nearly 25% of all plays produced in London
included women in “breeches roles” (women wore
tight-fitting knee length pants and played the role
of a man). It gave them the freedom to behave
like men.
Bernhardt in a
Breeches Role
 Acting Schools were established.
 Actors developed greater realism than before (although still not like
modern realism).
 Thomas Betterton played every great male part from 1660 into the
 Banquet halls in palaces were redesigned to accommodate performances.
 Since most English Renaissance theatres were gone (like the Globe) new English
theatres were more like the French and Italian theatres – they had proscenium
stages with large aprons.
 Backdrops could be raised or lowered.
 Act Curtains were used for the first time in England.
 Stage floors had grooves for sliding “flats” or “shutters” back and forth for scenery.
 The floor was raked away from the audience for perspective.
 Lighting came from chandeliers of candles over the apron and footlights of candles
along the front of the stage. (No more open roofs like The Globe).
 Aphra Behn (1640-1689)
 One of the first professional women writers
 She worked as a spy for the British Crown
 Produced 19 plays, some bawdy topics
 In spite of her literary success, she died in poverty
 Most famous play called: “Oroonoko” - 1688
 William Wycherley (1640-1715)
 The Country Wife - 1675
 William Congreve (1670-1729)
 The Way of the World - 1700
 Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774)
 She Stoops to Conquer – 1773
 Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816)
 The Rivals – 1775
 The School for Scandal - 1777
The End !
Intro to Theatre
Ms. Birtcher